finance

What My Salary Gets Me: A 30-year-old on $46,800 a year, whose salary more than halved since COVID-19.

Mamamia’s What My Salary Gets Me series asks Australians to record a week in their financial lives. Kind of like a sex diary but with money. So not like a sex diary at all. We still find out the best-kept secrets though. We discover what women are really spending their hard-earned cash on. Nothing is too outrageous or too sacred. This week, a 30-year-old freelancer who works in media shares her money diary.

Age: 30 

Job: Freelance media professional  

Income: Approx. $900 a week which works out to an annual salary of $46,800 (my salary has more than halved since the start of COVID-19) 

Income from investment property: $385 a week 

Housing: My partner and I live with my parents who don’t charge us rent, I also have a mortgage on an investment property 

Watch: A study found the optimal salary for happiness... and it's more achievable than you think. Post continues below. 


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Regular expenses (monthly): $3581.50

Mortgage: $2,160 

Rental property: $350 (water rates, strata etc) 

Spending: $600 ($150 a week) 

Health insurance: $154.70 

Phone: $129 

Gym: $54.30 

Chiro: $53.50 

Brow appointment: $80 

Savings: $20,000 

Assets: Newish car 

Debt: Only my home loan 

When my salary was impacted my partner took over our Netflix, Stan and Spotify accounts. He’s also been covering my half of a meal service that we share for weekly lunches.

Monday – Day One

I work home now due to COVID. Freelancing means taking the work when it comes so I’m at home working some weeks more than others. Today I have a fair bit of work so I’m at my laptop for most of the day. 

I take a break for lunch with my partner who is working from home too. We have a meal service for our lunches during the week, they’re about $10 each. We don’t cook a lot and it saves us money because it means we’re not getting Uber Eats every day.

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My partner has taken over paying for these since my work was impacted earlier in the year so for the time being, lunch is free. We go through a sh*t ton of coffee being at home, but we use the Nespresso machine instead of getting café coffee so it’s saved us some cash there. 

Daily total: $0  

Tuesday – Day Two

I’m running around doing some errands today and pick up some groceries while I’m at the shops. I spend $30 on groceries and put $10 fuel in the car. I also spot 30 per cent off on one of my favourite activewear sites so buy myself some tights and a jumper. I spend $145.60 on the two but know I’ll get heaps of wear out of them since I’ve been living in activewear.

Daily total: $186.50 

Wednesday – Day Three

I’m working from home today so go to the gym in the morning before putting my head in my laptop. I’ve been going to the gym most days and my membership only costs about $13.50 a week so it’s worth it to clear my head and also get out of the house. 

At around lunchtime my partner doesn’t feel like having a meal from the fridge so we decide to go down the road to a café that just opened nearby. We have a coffee each and share a chicken burger and chips which comes to $24. We don’t do it all that often and we like to support the local restaurants when we can. I shout because I had an invoice paid this week. 

Daily total: $24 (gym membership already paid) 

Thursday – Day Four

I do some work in the morning and sit at my laptop with a big coffee. Our anniversary is coming up and my partner been talking about wanting to get new AirPods. I buy them online as a surprise and I get them for $329. 

I go to the gym and then come home and have a shower before I go to an appointment for microdermabrasion. I bought treatments on sale for $29 each which is a steal compared to their normal price. I prepaid five of them earlier in the year so didn’t have to pay at the time of treatment for my session. Winning. I’ve cut back on a lot of my beauty related expenses since earlier in the year so it’s nice to have a bit of me time.   

Daily total: $329 

Friday – Day Five

Friday is the end of the month so I spend the morning invoicing for some projects I’ve been working on. I hate going to the gym on Fridays/weekends but want to get out of the house so take our dog for a walk. Bonus is walking doesn’t cost anything. 

I come home and by 3pm I’m trying to distract my partner who is on conference calls with a bottle of wine. We order Thai for dinner on Uber Eats and have recently gotten massively into Nip/Tuck. It’s streaming for free on 7plus and you don’t have to pay anything for the app. We haven’t been using our streaming services much since watching it but had finished watching all of the seasons of The O.C on Stan just before this. 

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Daily total: $0 (my partner shouted dinner and we had the wine from a trip to the Hunter) 

Saturday – Day Six

We have a housewarming with a few friends who recently moved into their own place and are expecting a baby. We hadn’t organised a gift so put some money in a card to help them with the new place. We give them $200.

We have pizza for lunch and then spend the rest of the afternoon chatting while snacking on a cheese board and drinking wine (for me and a few others, not our pregnant friend obviously). We get home early evening but because we’ve been eating pretty much all day, we’re not really hungry so skip dinner. 

Daily total: $200 

Sunday – Day Seven

We have our nephew’s third birthday party which is being held about an hour away. We bought him clothes (because kids love that) and a truck because his house is already filled with toys. We spend $100. We supervise pass the parcel and fill up on cupcakes and party pies. 

When we get home, we’re pretty hungry so we order ramen and have it delivered. I got a last-minute brief for some work on Friday, due on Monday, so I spend the arvo in front of my laptop again. 

My partner is working on a big project so he does some work on that too. Working on the weekend sucks but I have to take the work when it comes as it’s been so unpredictable lately. Ramen makes it better. We don’t usually drink on Sundays but after wrapping up our work, we share a bottle of wine. 

Daily total: $100 (my partner shouts dinner)  

Weekly total: $839.50 

Reflection:

We’ve had a lot of birthdays and special events on in the last few months so a lot of my money has gone towards gifts. When it comes to my personal spending though, I’ve reined it in a lot due to my loss of income. 

Given my income has been so unpredictable, I’ve been putting a lot of my money into savings just in case I need to dip into it in an emergency. It’s the most savings I’ve had in a while and after my experiences this year, it made me realise why it’s really important to have some money set aside and not spend every single cent. 

I’m lucky that I don’t have a lot of living expenses due to living at home and my partner has been helping out a lot since my work was impacted. It’s made me assess what I’m spending my money on and helped me to stop spending mindlessly, When I do buy something now, I get a lot of joy out of it because I’m not purchasing things as often. Losing so much of your income is hard but it definitely makes you appreciate what you have. 

You can catch up on our previous What My Salary Gets Me series here:

Feature image: Getty.

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